While many more common chicken breeds are very inexpensive to buy, especially if you acquire them as unhatched eggs or chicks, other breeds exist that, due to their rarity or particularly desirable traits, will cost you a whole lot more.
For anyone interested in acquiring unusual, exotic or valuable chickens for their flock, in this post, we discuss some of the most expensive chicken breeds in the world to give you an idea of how much these breeds can cost and why they fetch such high prices.
The Most Expensive Chicken Breeds
1. Ayam cemani
The unmissable distinguishing feature of this breed is its color since it is almost entirely black. This coloration not only includes its plumage but is also found in its face, its beak and even its internal organs and bones.
This is due to a genetic condition that causes fibromelanosis or hyperpigmentation.
These birds have long been used in cockfighting in Bali, where the sport has a particular religious significance. They are sought after not only for their striking appearance but also their prowess in battle since their powerful thighs make them formidable opponents in combat.
Ayam cemani are rare in their native Indonesia, and in the US, they can fetch exorbitant prices. Buying a breeding pair will set you back something to the tune of $5000, but more affordable options include buying chicks for $50 each or unhatched eggs at $160 for a dozen.
2. Dong Tao chicken
Another chicken with a peculiar, unmistakable appearance is the Vietnamese gà Đông Tảo or Dong Tao chicken.
This breed originates in the village of Đông Tảo near the Vietnamese capital Hanoi and is easily distinguished by its unique thick legs and feet, which give it its other name, the “dragon chicken”.
This type of chicken was once raised to feed royalty and high-ranking officials, and even now its meat, which is considered a delicacy in Vietnam, can fetch as much as 400,000VND (17USD) per kilo, an extraordinarily high price for chicken meat in the country.
They are a rare breed, even in Vietnam, in part due to the difficulty of breeding and hatching them.
It’s hard to put a price on them since it’s almost impossible to find them outside of Vietnam, but a breeding pair would be likely to cost in the region of $2500 – or you might be able to pick up unhatched eggs for $8 each.
3. Deathlayer chicken
The slightly disconcerting name of this chicken comes from the German name Westfälischer Totleger, which has been translated into English as “deathlayer” – and people have come to believe that this refers to the chicken’s ability to continue laying eggs until the day it dies.
This is untrue, however, but its name does refer to its impressive prowess as an egg-laying breed. It was originally called the Alltagsleger, meaning “every day layer”, which was corrupted over time into Totleger, which could be translated as “deathlayer”.
This type of chicken is an old breed that can be traced back at least 400 years. It is a particularly handsome bird that exists in both gold-penciled and silver-penciled variations.
Unfortunately, they are now extremely rare, with probably only around 1,000 birds left in existence. This is one of the main reasons for their high price tag – hatched chicks usually cost around $100 while unhatched eggs can go for around $14.
The lineage of the brahma chicken is a little confused, but it is believed that they are descended from large birds that were originally brought to the US from China.
These were then developed into a breed of chicken that became the primary meat bird in the US from the 1850s until the 1930s.
One type, the dark brahma, was developed in Britain after brahmas were sent there in 1852 and were then re-exported back to the US.
This is why they are valued as table birds, but they are also impressive layers and are kept as a dual-purpose breed.
Furthermore, their quiet and friendly disposition makes them a popular breed to keep simply as pets – although they require more care than other breeds due to their feathered legs and feet.
This breed has seen a revival in recent years, and since more are now available, they are not as expensive as they once were – an unhatched brahma egg will cost around $3 and a chick will fetch around $7.
5. Kadaknath chicken
Similar in many ways to the Indonesian ayam cemani, the Indian kadaknath chicken is another breed that is entirely black, including its plumage, its skin, its face and beak, its legs, its internal organs, its bones and even its blood.
It is mostly found in Madhya Pradesh where it was originally bred, and it is kept there by villagers and tribal people in the state.
Roosters can weigh 4-4.4lbs while hens usually weigh in at around 2.6-3.3lbs. The meat is considered to have a superior taste to other types of chicken meat, and it is also thought to bestow vigor and virility on those who eat it.
However, in recent years, due to the popularity of these chickens for eating, their numbers have dwindled, and they are now considered rare.
The Indian government has tried to take steps to increase the population of these birds, but at present, if you manage to find one outside of India, it is likely to cost you in the region of $2500, similar to what you would pay for an ayam cemani.
6. Liège fighter
The Liège fighter – or Luikse Vechter in Flemish and combattant de Liège in French – is a breed of Belgian fighting bird, as the name suggests.
They are tall, powerful birds with strong legs and large feet, and they can trace their lineage back to an older breed of Belgian fighting breed called the Brugse Vechter – or Bruges fighter.
However, breeders tried to improve this original stock by crossing them with Oriental fighting birds, and the impressive Liège fighter was the result.
Nowadays, since cockfighting is banned in Belgium, aficionados take their birds over the border to northern France to compete because that region has a special law that allows cockfighting due to the historical significance of the sport in the area.
However, since few people are now involved in cockfighting, the breed has gone into serious decline, and most Liège fighters are kept only for show. There is also little incentive to breed them since demand is low for a bird that is not especially good for meat or eggs.
As a result, they have become hard to come by, and the price has risen accordingly. A chick can cost around $75 while a pullet might cost twice that. Unhatched eggs can be found for around $8 each.
7. Ayam serama
The ayam serama is a small chicken most closely associated with Malaysia that is commonly kept for show.
In Malaysia, they are exhibited in “beauty contests” where they are expected to display the character of a small but fearless warrior.
There are two theories about where they come from. According to the first, they are the result of a crossing between local Malaysian birds and Japanese stock. Alternatively, it is thought they are descended from birds that were gifted to the local sultan by the king of Thailand.
In recent decades, they have also been exported to the US and the UK, but outside of Malaysia, they are considered rare.
Although they might not be good meat or egg-laying birds, despite their strong and assertive personalities, they are docile and friendly, which, coupled with their adorable appearance has seen their popularity increase rapidly.
However, since there are not many of them to go around, they come with quite a hefty price tag – a serama chick will cost something in the region of $80 in the US.
8. Swedish black chicken
Like the ayam cemani and the kadaknath chicken, this Swedish chicken breed has hereditary fibromelanosis, causing the entire bird to be black, although their feathers can produce a green or purple sheen when reflecting the light of the sun.
Indeed, this breed is thought to be descended from one or both of the other two black breeds we’ve mentioned above.
However, unlike the others, these birds are resistant to the cold and are considered good layers that are able to continue being productive right into the winter months.
This makes them a suitable laying breed for places with colder climates like their native Sweden – where they are known locally as Svarthöna and are considered a landrace.
Unfortunately, they’re not a common breed and are not easy to buy. If you can find one for sale, a chick will likely cost at least $100 while an unhatched egg might cost as much as $13.
9. Orust chicken
The Orust chicken is a breed that is at high risk of extinction since only a very limited number is left in the world.
The breed originates on the island of Orust in the west of Sweden, for which they are named. There, they were kept by fishermen who fed them mostly on the scraps from their catches.
With a plumage of intermingled black and white feathers that give them an attractive mottled appearance, they are one of the more handsome breeds of chicken. They aren’t just pretty to look at though since Orusts are considered good layers.
If that sounds like something you’d like to add to your flock, the problem is going to be finding one because they’re extremely rare, especially outside their native Sweden.
If you do find one, you will be looking at paying at least $30-60 for a chick, $60 for a pullet or perhaps $10 for an unhatched egg.
10. Bresse chicken
Bresse chickens – or Bresse gauloise to give them their French name – are an ancient breed that comes from the historical region of Bresse in eastern France. There are four official colorations, silver-penciled, white, black and the more recently created blue.
They were first mentioned as long ago as 1591 and the meat is considered among the very best tasting of any breed. The breast of these chickens contains marbling like the best cuts of prime beef, making it juicier than other types of chicken, although the birds take longer to mature.
Despite its culinary value, this breed was almost lost by around 1900, and it was only through the concerted efforts of specialist breeders that it was brought back from the brink.
Even when they are not kept for meat, they are good layers, making them a good choice of dual-purpose bird.
Part of the problem with obtaining birds of this breed is that only chickens raised within the Bresse region can be legally called Bresse chickens.
However, if you do encounter these chickens elsewhere – such as the so-called American Bresse, which is the same breed but with a different name – you can expect to pay premium prices. Chicks will cost at least $10 each, an unhatched egg might cost $4 and a pullet $30.
Some extremely rare and expensive chickens
As we’ve seen, some breeds of chicken can cost eye-watering sums of money, and if you hope to start raising something like an ayam cemani, a Dong Tao or a kadaknath chicken, you’d better have deep pockets.
However, some of the other breeds on our list don’t cost quite as much as these most expensive breeds, and people interested in keeping something a little different yet still affordable might consider something like a brahma, an Orust or a Bresse.